On 9 November 2012, a group of value chain practitioners, consultants, advisors and professionals visited one of the dairy value chain sites of the Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers Project (IPMS) in Ada District, Ethiopia. The group comprised participants of an international conference on Making Connections: Value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture.
- Those visiting the Ada Dairy Cooperative were briefed about the cooperative and toured its feed processing and milk processing plants.
- Those visiting smallholder dairy farmers keeping crossbred cows learned about the good amounts of milk they were able to produce, consume and sell.
- Those visiting a Farmer Training Centre learned about the IPMS project, including its ‘value chain’ approach, estrous synchronization in cows and knowledge management work (e.g., knowledge centres, Ethiopian Agriculture Portal (EAP), DVDs produced for farmer groups), followed by a discussion with farmers on options for better managing the health, feed and supplies of other inputs for dairying.
Participants were inspired by the work of the Ada Dairy Cooperative and impressed by its many links with other institutions. They were surprised by how significantly the fasting days of the Orthodox Church made milk prices fluctuate. Topics of discussions ranged from price setting and ownership of milk money in the family, to the role of women in dairy management and payment methods to cooperative members.
The visits to the feed and milk processing plants generated discussions on management, pricing and overall challenges for increasing the plants efficiencies.
Participants visited two dairy farms. Asfaw Teshome is an entrepreneur who invested USD15,000 for water harvesting by drilling a deep well; the well water is used by four Kebele communities of about 20,000 people in total. He charges USD.02 for 25 litres of water and uses the water for backyard vegetable production. He uses biogas for his household energy consumption and slurry for growing his organic vegetables. Kefenie Birmejo has two milking cows, each producing 11 litres of milk per day. His cow management is excellent and earns him about USD12 per day from milk sales.
At the Farmer Training Centre, participants asked the farmers about the main challenges that they face in their dairy business, their methods for managing the health of their animals, the role of women in dairy management and average prices for dairy cows.